Stress/Worry

Stressed About Indecisiveness?

A fork in the road decision

“I used to be indecisive but now I am not quite sure.” – Tommy Cooper

Stressed about a fork in the road, indecisive

Decisions About Decision Making

It is inevitable that we will be presented with circumstances in life that we are uncertain about. We are constantly called upon to make decisions in our home and professional lives, and making these successfully oftentimes serves as an underlying instigator for stress and anxiety. 

Common questions you may ask yourself may be….“Should I really attend this event?” “Will this decision best serve myself and my family?” “Which job should I choose, and how will I know I’ve chosen the right one?”.

How we approach our decision making, and furthermore how we deal with life’s uncertainties, can directly affect our mental health and overall wellbeing. Fortunately, there are ways to approach life’s way of presenting us with decisions to be made that will allow for less stress and anxiety. With these tools in mind, we are more likely to find peace with the decisions we are making, regardless of how certain we may or may not feel. 

Why Do We Experience Indecisiveness?

Woman sitting thinking, decision making

There are a number of reasons why we are apt to feel indecisive when presented with a decision…

In some circumstances, there may be too many options. Something as simple as where we’d like to go for dinner can easily flood the mind with unlimited room for questioning. There is such as a thing as too many options to choose from, and this can really un-simplify our ability to make a decision. 

Another cause of indecisiveness is a term often referred to as “people pleasing”. This simply refers to the desire one has to base their decision-making on what they assume might appease one or more individuals around them. This can become quite stressful, especially if you’re hoping to please a group of people at a time. 

Perhaps when presented with decisions to be made, there is an underlying fear of taking responsibility. Making decisions, good or bad, typically lead to direct consequences. If the possibility of any of these potential outcomes appears overwhelming, this unwillingness to take responsibility for circumstance can also contribute to indecision. 

Let’s Reach Success suggests that the final cause for indecision is “the call for perfection”, a need to choose correctly every time no matter what. Because so many of the choices we make in life are not always with 100% conviction, it simply isn’t possible to guarantee that making selection will be done perfectly. The blog also explains that “if you strive for perfection in everything, chances are that you will put off making a decision for as long as possible because you fear failure”.

Indecisiveness Leads to Stress and Anxiety

Man looking indecisive, stressed

Biology tells us that certain areas of the brain enable us to make decisions, whether we’re sure or not of our choice. We have the amygdala to thank for processing emotions, including those driven by fear and anxiety. It is the prefrontal cortex that helps balance their behaviors, but will function differently for individuals with an anxious predisposition. 

Those with this predisposition often experience a heightened sense of apprehension, and the parts of the brain that would normally assist in dampening these effects are less active. According to Livestrong.com, “this can lead to paralyzing indecision as fear and anxiety overwhelm the ability to weigh options and tolerate uncertainty about how the situation will ultimately turn out.”

Proactive Measures and Coping Tools

While the need for making decisions is inevitable, experiencing stress and indecision does not have to be…

A proactive step you can take to ensure a stress-free decision is to accept ambiguity and embrace the unknown. Until we can see the entire picture of a situation, it simply isn’t guaranteed what it will look like. Therefore, in the meantime, there is no reason to force clarity that just hasn’t come quite yet. 

Another tool to hang onto is the power of positive thinking rather than administering energy into the power of anxiety. It is very common to dwell in negative what “could be’s” when dealing with a decision that should be made. Rather than assuming the worst, begin to contemplate the possible positive outcomes that can result. It’s okay to be prepared for anything life has to offer, but ruminating in a dreary unknown will not do you any favors. 

Finally, Psychology Today suggests to “stop hesitating, develop a factual basis for deciding new steps to reduce uncertainty, and get yourself out of a procrastination trap”. Though our emotional selves are often tied to life circumstances and thus the decisions we must make, our decision-making does not have to be. 

Create a clear list of the facts to refer to. Some take this a step further in creating a “pros and cons” list, which by all means can help assist you as well. 

Embrace only what you know to be true, not what you worry might be. 

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